Eddie Jordan hired to coach Sixers
Eddie Jordan is the new head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, leaving Sacramento's vacancy as the only remaining coaching opening in the league.
Jordan and the Sixers have reached an agreement on a multi-year deal to reunite the former Washington Wizards coach with Sixers president Ed Stefanski after Jordan and Stefanski worked together in New Jersey.
Jordan was the first to interview for the Philly job -- which came open May 11 when Tony DiLeo returned to his front-office post after taking over for Maurice Cheeks in December and guiding the Sixers to the No. 6 seed in the East -- and the only other candidate interviewed twice by Stefanski besides Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey.
Jordan comes to the Sixers with eight years of head coaching experience with the Wizards and the Kings.
|Career as NBA Head Coach|
Sources said Jordan was also the top candidate in Sacramento, but it was believed from the start he preferred to land with the Sixers, largely because Philly is coming off back-to-back playoff appearances. The Kings are essentially starting over after going 17-65 last season and coming out of last week's lottery with the No. 4 overall pick despite finishing with the league's worst record.
Besides Jordan, Sacramento has interviewed veteran coach Paul Westphal and announced its intention to meet with Boston Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau and Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis. Sources say Thibodeau will interview with the Kings in Las Vegas on Saturday, with Rambis likely to have his first face-to-face with co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof before the Lakers meet the Orlando-Cleveland winner in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday. TNT analyst Mike Fratello has also expressed interest in the Sacramento job and has not been ruled out as a candidate.
It remains possible another coaching vacancy could be created in Minnesota if Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn and Kahn's predecessor-turned-coach Kevin McHale can't hash out a new contract. No resolution to McHale's future is expected before next week.
Sources say Wolves owner Glen Taylor wants McHale to return as coach, but preferably on a one-year deal. McHale is said to be seeking a multiyear contact to stay on the Wolves' bench after he and Taylor operated for years on a season-to-season handshake agreement.
Jordan has a 230-288 record in stints coaching Sacramento and Washington and quickly emerged as the favorite in Philadelphia. The Sixers, though, did discuss the job with at least five other candidates -- Villanova's Jay Wright, Chris Ford, Thibodeau, Rambis and Casey -- before offering the job to Jordan, who was fired in November after Washington opened the season 1-10 without the injured Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood.
"I saw firsthand the immense impact Eddie Jordan had in helping the Nets reach two NBA Finals and as the head coach in Washington he consistently put his teams in a position to win on a nightly basis," Stefanski said late Friday in a statement. "He embodies all the qualities I was looking for in the next head coach of the Sixers and we are very excited to have him in Philadelphia."
With an estimated $4 million remaining on Jordan's Wizards contract, Washington will have to pay the difference between that figure and Jordan's first-year salary with the Sixers. Washington hired Flip Saunders as its coach in April, signing him to a four-year deal worth an estimated $18 million.
Jordan was an assistant coach and Stefanski was a front-office executive when the Nets made back-to-back trips to the Finals in 2002 and 2003. Before his first interview in Philly, Jordan said: "We had had some tremendous success together. There's a lot of positives in that, a lot of hard work in that."
A news conference to announce Jordan's hiring is expected Monday. He could not be reached Friday.
Jordan's first big challenge with the Sixers -- assuming that the club retains free-agent point guard Andre Miller or finds a suitable replacement -- will be blending the interior talents of Elton Brand with the up-tempo skills of Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young and Louis Williams. DiLeo went 32-27 after replacing Cheeks, but the Sixers' personality was forced on its interim coach when Brand was lost for the season in February to shoulder surgery, leaving Philly with no alternative but to rely on its running game to offset its well-chronicled lack of perimeter shooting.
The Sixers (41-41) took an unexpected 2-1 lead in their first-round series with Orlando but lost Game 6 at home even though Dwight Howard was out because of a suspension, all but ensuring that DiLeo would not return as coach.
Stefanski is known to prefer the running game and Jordan's teams in Washington were always free-scoring. Yet it remains to be seen whether Iguodala and Miller can adapt to an intricate Princeton offense that doesn't appear to suit them or if Jordan will tweak his system with the Sixers.
"Iguodala can be a ball-stopper and Miller does not like complicated offenses," said one veteran scout.
Jordan will also be under pressure, when the Sixers can't run, to find a successful half-court formula to get the best out of Brand, after Philadelphia invested nearly $80 million to sign him away from the Los Angeles Clippers last summer. Brand appeared in only 29 games before the shoulder trouble that derailed his season and struggled when he did play, averaging just 13.8 points and 8.8 rebounds and shooting a career-low 44.7 percent from the field.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.
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